This photo is an epic one illustrating the dark side of the force relative to shaggy manes. These things get goopy, black, inky, drippy, disgusting, and look like the dude at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark melting to their doom. And it happens shockingly fast. So the trick to foraging this mushroom is not just knowing where they tend to appear, but how early in their brief cycle you happen upon them. The good news is that where you find the doom of darkness and disgust, you will likely find some in the youth of their short life – highly edible, delicate in texture and flavor, and increasingly becoming a delicacy in my mind due to their fragility and scarcity.
This is an annual event in my life – skunked last year, but successful in 2008, 2007, and 2006. This year, my success came not from the usual shaggy-mane locations, but from a commenter on this blog, Liz. She gave me a heads up that there were some near her property near Cooking Lake, so I went out this morning with my 3-year-old and Liz, her neighbor and I picked a solid yield of shaggy manes. Liz had also been kind enough to pick me quite a few huge shaggy parasols.
Below are photos of the light side of the shaggy mane – the young edible form, as well as the peeled & cleaned version, and the cooked version. From the cooked stage they will get eaten, or bagged and frozen. Local, wild, ‘free’, and a piece of our ‘cuisine du terroir’ that you simply cannot obtain elsewhere, regardless of bankroll. I love it.